The vision thing (II)


Lawrence Martin on Ignatieff.

Dumbing down has been equated since the Reagan era with having the common touch. But, according to pollster Frank Graves, there is a growing appetite in Canada for a more sophisticated, intellectual form of leadership. It comes not just from Barack Obama’s having lit the fuse, Mr. Graves says, but from our own experience and conditions. We haven’t had the elevated style since Pierre Trudeau, who remains, according to polls, Canada’s most admired PM.

Since that era, it’s been largely populist and visionless. The country’s politics have swung so low in recent years not just on account of Mr. Harper, who exists almost entirely in the realm of tactics, but on account of Liberal leaders as well.

“We’ve been punching well below our intellectual weight,” says Mr. Graves. “We have the most educated public we have ever had but, instead of reaching higher to them, our politicians go the other way.” They should understand, he says, that “you don’t have to be aw-shucks and lowbrow to relate to average people. Average people are smart. Obama’s victory showed that. On the Republican side, Sarah Palin was making George Bush look like a Nobel Prize winner.”


The vision thing (II)

  1. Stephane Dion was pretty bright, no? Didn’t he have a PhD or something? And a vision to greenify the economy?

    But yes, I agree that Obama’s victory showed that average people are smart. Recent polling shows that most Obama supporters were swayed by his sophisticated understanding of constitutional law. Remember the famous chant at his rallies? How did it go again? “Yes we can… appoint members to the Supreme Court who rely less on originalism and rigid textualism in his or her interpretation of the constitution and statuatory legislation, respectively” That really made the uniformly erudite crowd go wild.

    • What I found most encouraging was the way the American people, practically with one voice, rejected Bush’s defiance of Congress via “signing statements.” Frankly, I hadn’t expected that to become Issue #1 in the campaign, but once again the American people refused to be underestimated. And don’t get me started on John McCain’s sophisticated realtime parody of King Lear. Who knew there were so many Tom Stoppard fans in West Virginia?

    • I meant to comment about Obama but forgot. You have hit the nail on the head, tho, Olaf.

      Who knew when Obama was talking about bringing change to Washington DC all the time during the campaign, what he meant was that he was going to try and appoint more scofflaws to cabinet than any previous Pres?

    • Yes we can… appoint members to the Supreme Court who rely less on originalism and rigid textualism in his or her interpretation of the constitution and statuatory legislation, respectively”

      Are you having some sort of episode? Of course average people weren’t thinking of that when they voted for Obama. They were thinking of 8 years of the dumbest administration in American history.

      Don’t worry, Olaf. Even if we get smarter, more sophisticated politics, no will ever be smarter than you.

      • That is a relief.

        • pop-pop, fizz-fizz… and like the relief of constipation, Olaf’s contributions can be easily flushed…

  2. Say ‘no’ to pols and their visions. Trudeau and his vision have led to thirty years, and counting, of constitutional drama, inflamed Quebecers and introduced all kinds of new rules and quangos that people don’t like.

    And why do so many people think it’s clever to take a swipe at Palin and her intelligence. I bet everyone of our pols would die to get the amount of exposure, and love, that Palin has received over the past few months. If people find it necessary to crack wise about US pols and their supposed intelligence, Biden would be a much better, and logical, choice.

    • I bet if Joe Biden was asked what magazines and periodicals he reads, he could name at least one, but probably even two or three.

      • Book learnin’ is overestimibalated when you have the magikal advantage of actually being able to see the entire world from your front porch.

        • Not to be a stickler Brad, but you spelt “majical” wrong. Otherwise, strong point.

          • sorry, for full satirical effect, I should have dropped the ‘g’ on ‘being’.

    • jwl u is one funny dude. Thanks for the morning smile!

    • JWL parsed.
      Trudeau’s vision caused separatism, national hissy fits & regional grandstanding, and bureaucracy.
      Pols need to exspose themselves to love as a substitute for cleverness.
      people should not pick on Palin but should pick on Biden.

      • I hope that is satire, KC.

        Trudeau caused separatism???? National hissy fits from provinces only started AFTER Trudeau??

        Either you are being satirical or you skip Grade 6 Canadian history (as well as Grades 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12).

        • Ted, I think he was clearly doing a redux of jwl, if “JWL parsed” is any indication.

        • You’re right 1st time.
          I attended shool as often as possible. In fact i’m retaking grade 5 now, and hope to move on if Olaf ever coffs up the $ 5 he owes me. lol

      • people should not pick on Palin but should pick on Biden.

        My mother would agree with this statement. She taught me never to make fun of “developmentally disabled” people. Given the farcical nature of Palin’s VP campaign and her complete inability to prepare for interviews or absorb new information, I think Palin fits into this category.

  3. I just hope we see more of the word “dumbing down” in the next little while. We desperately need an examination of what has been passing for expertise, intelligence, wisdom or plain common sense in the last three decades.

      • But wasn’t that due to lead in the water pipes?

        • That and a few hundred years of patting themselves on the back.

      • It’s just not right. It’s not in the 7 volume faux leather gold lettered edition that the History Book Club used to offer. Not right at all.

      • I’ll underbid that by 32 cents.

        What’s going on is far more complex and sophisticated than what happened with the Roman Empire and is related to substituting narrow, technocratic heuristics for real human intelligence in decision-making. We’re drowning in it.

        • That looks interesting, I’ll keep an eye out for it.

          I wonder if the situations aren’t analogous, for all that. The Roman Empire deprived people of political independence, leading to a pervasive spiritual malaise that could only be countered by the democratisation of philosophy as Christianity. In our case, the failure of Christianity has led to a pervasive spiritual malaise that we’re trying to counter with DVD’s and video games, aka technology — unless technology is just a symptom of the spiritual malaise. I mean, we haven’t regained political independence, so maybe we’re right back where the Romans were in AD 200 — except that religion is no longer an option.

          • I think the condition of the average citizen in the West is vastly different from that which existed during Roman times, in terms of education, prosperity, civil rights, access to media and communications technology, etc. etc. I think the analogy works for the ruling classes and the institutions they run (which all seem moribund right now), but that doesn’t really interest me.

            I sometimes wonder if the masses actually noticed the disappearance of the Roman Empire or even cared all that much.

  4. The “vision” thing does not have to be some elaborate restructuring of society. I just see it as something which guides policymaking and decision-making in a generally cohesive manner.

    For example, Mulroney had a vision to make us more competitive, so he brought in tax reforms and free trade and better relations with our primary trading partner.

    Having a vision or a general outline of what you want to achieve in government is essential for good government. The two alternatives – a dogmatic ideology or a rudderless reaction to new events as they arise – are worse and produce government that is either non-responsive to the realities of its environment or sporadic, inconsistent policies that work against each other and produce more problems and more bureaucracy to sort through those problems, just money down the drain.

    Interestingly, with our current (and soon to be ex-) Prime Minister, we’ve seen all three in three years: from staunch ideolog bashing Canada and talking about purity of policy, government based on principles and firewalls (pre-2005, pre-Cadman) to “conservative incrementalism” (2005-2006, pre-government) to a rudderless, grab and buy voters where you can, say anything, biggest spending government in our history (2006 to present, in government).

    • Forgive me for speaking ill of the [politically] dead, but; “Having a vision or a general outline of what you want to achieve in government . . .” juxtaposed with a retirement funded by thousand dollar bills received in plain brown envelopes and a legacy of two seats for his party in Parliament seem to me to be a fair indictment that Mulroney’s vision – and Harper’s – consist of entirely self-centred narcissism. Canada, for them I suspect, is seen entirely as a means to their personal ends. A vision for Canada, in my view, requires transparency of a degree neither of these personalities have ever demonstrated.

  5. Speaking of my unedycatedness, particularly re the net. Anyone tell me how to pass a hot or not story tip on to Aaron?

    • Share it here: we won’t tell.

      • No no, you’ll hear about it eventually. Besides i’m waiting for Aaron to slap his CB on the desk and say: ” how much”.. They still do that, don’t they?

    • email? fax? telephone? letter?

  6. Say Aaron, a suggestion for The vision thing (iii)

    I happened to be in a Chapter’s purchasing my G&M and next to the cover of a mag with a picture of an Iggy brain scan (kinda looks like medusa with thin snakes) I saw this headline next to a picture of Harper – “Stephen Harper’s relentless vision” by William Johnson, March 2009 Walrus.

    No idea what it says – I’ll let you give the synopsis.

  7. HEY AARON!! Check CBC North for a follow up on the NWT Premier a fighter story, or was that Scott’s piece?

    • I thought Jarrid told you to stop watching CBC.

      • Radio man, radio. Foxed that techno geek!

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